Barshim steals show as Asian Indoor Championships begin in Doha

 20 Feb 2016 - 0:31

Barshim steals show as Asian Indoor Championships begin in Doha
LEFT and CENTRE: Men’s High Jump gold medallist, Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim (2.35m) celebrates his victory. Pictures by: Ibrahim/The Peninsula
 The winners of the men’s high jump final (from left)  silver medallist Majd Eddin Ghazal (Syria), gold medallist Mutaz Barshim (Qatar) and bronze medallist Manjula Kumara (Sri Lanka).

By Fawad Hussain
Doha: There was a huge roar from the spectators at Aspire Dome every time Mutaz Barshim sprinted towards his target and the star Qatari high-jumper did not let the home fans down by clinching a gold medal for the hosts as the 7th Asian Indoor Asian Championships got off to a grueling start in Doha yesterday.

A total of eight titles were decided but it was an all-Barshim show on the opening day of the three-day championship. 
The star made a brilliant 2.35m clearance to seal his fourth consecutive Asian indoor title to make the hosts proud after favourite Qatari sprinters Samuel Francis and Tosin Ogunode had a forgettable day on the track.      

Barshim’s late last month 2.36m clearance in Malmo, Sweden and the 24-year old’s latest title has raised Qatar’s hopes of getting another Olympic medal in Rio later this year.
“Today I focused on winning the Asian title. I’ve already won four gold medals indoors and if I stay healthy, I’ll be able to extend that record, ” said Barshim after winning the gold medal.
“The medal is special as it comes at home in front of the home fans.
“Although I didn’t clear 2.40, it was still a good competition. It’s essential to stay healthy, because only in that way you can improve yourself. I’ve faced injuries before and suffered setbacks, so I know how it’s,” he signed off.
Majd Eddin Ghazal of Syria (2.28m) and Manjula Kumara (2.24m) of Sri Lanka won the silver and bronze medals respectively.
Earlier, Francis and Ogunode were knocked out of the men’s 60m race before the final.
The hosts were expecting medals from the in-form sprinters in the highly-anticipated competition. However, both the sprinters were disqualified after making foul starts in the semi-finals.  
It was a huge blow for Qatar’s campaign in the championships as Francis entered the event with three titles under his belt with triumphs in 2008, 2010 and 2014.
“I twisted my ankle in the warm-up that’s why I was very cautious. I expect stiff opposition with the Qataris running at home, but my goal is to beat them,” he said before the semi-finals. 
Ogunode, who has 6.50 credentials from 2014, entered the event clocking 6.66 this season but the Qatari sprinter was not satisfied with his first run in the morning.   
 “It was not bad for a morning race. I am well prepared and ready for better things in the afternoon,” he said before the semi-finals. 
Later, Iran’s Hassan Hossein Taftian made the championship record in men’s 60m and claimed gold medal with a run in 6.56secs. Taftian’s countryman Reza Ali Ghasei (6.66secs) took silver while Eric Shauwn Brazas of Philippines grabbed bronze medal with a time of 6.70secs.
The 60m women’s title went to Viktoriya Zyabkina of Kazakhstan who finished the job in 7.27secs followed by Chinese sprinter Yuan Qiqi (7.27secs) and Dutee Chand (7.37secs).         
Elsewhere, India’s Mayookha Johny clinched long jump gold medal with a 6.35m leap. She finished ahead of Vietnam’s Bui Thi Thu Thao and Kazakhstan’s Olga Rypakova (6.22m).
“Winning in Doha made me really happy, especially since I’m not used to competing indoors. However, I expected something better than 6.35m. But I’m not complaining at all. The Asian title is quite an achievement,” said Mayookha.
In women’s pole vault, China’s Li Ling jumped 4.70m to better her own Championship (4.50m) and Asian indoor record (4.51m). Her compatriot Ren Mengqian finished second with a 4.30m clearance while Japan’s Tomomi Abiko (4.15m) was third.
“I was ready to jump 4.80, but even 4.70, a new area record, is a very satisfying result. It was my first indoor competition this year. I’m confident I can do better than that. I hope I’ll jump higher in Portland when it matters the most,” she said.
“I don’t just want to be known as the taller pole vaulter (she is 1.85m), but also the best. I believe I’ve the potential,” she said.
China’s Geng Shuang clinched the gold medal in shot put with a distance of 18.06m while compatriot Guo Tianqian (17.44m) and Bahrain’s Noora Jassim (16.26m) secured silver and bronze medals respectively.
Earlier, Bahrain’s Oluwakemi Mujidat Adekoya broke the championship record in women’s 400m in her first heats with a time of 51.41secs. She broke the 20-year-old Asian mark (52.27secs) set by China’s Li Yajun and Championship record by Bahrain’s Rakia Al Gasra (53.28secs) in 2008.The Peninsula